Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Looking to Hire a Contractor? Know Where to Look and Whom to Pick

More and more businesses are hiring consultants and contractors to fill vacant positions or to perform specific tasks within the company, and some of them are never actually present in the office but spend the majority of their time working remotely. BBB is advising businesses that are looking to grow their workforce, whether through remote consultants or in-house contractors, to consider a few simple tips to finding the consultant who’s right for the business’s needs.

The key to picking the right consultant is to be certain that your company needs one. Take the time to lay out the specifics of the problem you face, the exact objective you want to accomplish, and a time frame for doing so. 

Ask around. Your business network is a great place to start. Check websites like LinkedIn to find people you may know. Ask people you trust for referrals to qualified consulting firms or sole practitioners.

Schedule an introductory meeting with three or more of your best prospects. This will allow you the opportunity, by asking pointed questions, to verify that the consultant has experience with the specific problem or project, and your industry. 

Check references thoroughly. Reputable consultants should be able to provide references readily, while would-be-consultants will have few, if any, to offer. Also check to see if the consultant is accredited by a national association.

Get a written proposal. Reliable consultants will provide a written, detailed proposal before the contract is signed.

Clearly spell out all fees. Consultants can charge a fixed fee, an hourly rate or a monthly retainer. Hourly rates could raise your costs substantially, so ask the consultant to put a ceiling on the job to cap your expenses…and make sure the consultant knows who is authorized to assign them additional tasks that are not spelled out in the contract.

Keep good records. For each consultant you hire, establish a file, which should contain the consultant’s contract, invoices, copies of 1099 forms and any other information that shows the worker is operating an independent business.

For more business tips, go to bbb.org.

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